Book Bits For Saturday: 5.14.2011

The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World
By Michael Spence
Review in The Economist
Never before have so many people grown rich so quickly. Japan was the first country to achieve sustained, high-speed growth, in the post-war years, but it did so alone. A handful of smallish Asian tigers followed. Mr Spence wonders whether that formula can work when 60% of humanity, led by India and China, try the same thing. Globalisation, he notes, has been critical to the rapid growth of emerging markets. But it has also led to rising inequality in the rich countries, and they may now well respond by raising protectionist barriers. Or maybe not. Mr Spence is not sure about this nor, unfortunately, of many of the other issues he tackles. “The Next Convergence” feels less like a book than a transcript of the author thinking out loud about a hotch-potch of contemporary economic issues.

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure
By Tim Harford
Interview with author via The New York Times
Tim Harford is a columnist for The Financial Times and the author of The Undercover Economist. He’s part of the growing cadre of journalists who try to write about economics in plain English. His new book, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure, will be published this week. Our conversation follows…
Harford: One of the main ideas of the book is that the world is full of interesting ideas that might help solve some of our big problems, but nobody really knows which of these ideas will work and which will fail. So policy makers, corporate leaders and social campaigners need to be much more open to all sorts of formal and informal experiments. Jamie Oliver created an accidental experiment. It would be nice if we spent a bit more energy doing this deliberately.
The First Great Recession of the 21st Century: Competing Explanations
Edited by Óscar Dejuán, Cristina Marcuzzo and Eladio Febrero
Summary via publisher, Edward Elgar
The 2008–10 financial crisis and the global recession it created is a complex phenomenon that warrants detailed examination. The essays in this book utilise several alternative paradigms to provide a plausible explanation and a credible cure. This book provides this important analysis in great detail and from different theoretical perspectives, presenting a clearer understanding of what went wrong and expounding misinterpretations of current theories and practices.
Global Financial Crisis: The Ethical Issues
Edited by Ned Dobos, Christian Barry and Thomas Pogge
Summary via publisher, Palgrave Macmilan
The Global Financial Crisis is acknowledged to be the most severe economic downturn since the 1930s, and one that is unique in its underlying causes, its scope, and its wider social, political and economic implications. This volume explores some of the ethical issues that it has raised.
The New International Money Game (7th ed.)
By Robert Z. Aliber
Summary via publisher, Palgrave Macmillan
When Robert Z. Aliber’s The International Money Game first appeared in 1973, it was widely acclaimed as the best – and the most entertaining – introduction to the arcane mysteries of international finance. The 7th edition of this classic work has been fully re-written to recognize the immense changes in the global economy in the last thirty five years. There have been four waves of financial crises; each wave has involved the failures of banks and other financial institutions in three, four, or more countries. Each wave of crises has been preceded by a wave of credit bubbles, which has involved the increase in the indebtedness of a group of borrowers at rates in the range of twenty to thirty percent a year for three or four or more years. These bubbles are related to global imbalances. A substantive preface surveys these major changes since the first edition. As in previous editions, Aliber’s aim is not just to be topical. His witty, perceptive, and authoritative book focuses on fundamentals, on ‘how the pieces fit’. Aliber provides an indispensable and highly readable guide to the complex and increasingly fragile arrangement for financing the world’s business.
Housing Markets and the Global Financial Crisis: The Uneven Impact on Households
Edited by Ray Forrest and Ngai-Ming Yip
Summary via publisher, Edward Elgar
Housing markets are at the centre of the recent global financial turmoil. In this well-researched study, a multidisciplinary group of leading analysts explores the impact of the crisis within, and between, countries. The impacts of the so-called global crisis are, in fact, highly uneven for both households and institutions. This unique book investigates why this is the case as well as emphasizing the consequences. It encompasses the experiences of all the major economies, including: Australia, China, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, highlighting and comparing a wide range of housing systems and crisis impacts.